Of the five million people listed as self-employed by the UK, more than 60% are based at home, according to the Office for National Statistics. Dubbed “homepreneurs”, almost 30% of these upstarts are first-timers in the small business world which means many are feeling their way through what can be a relatively tricky operating period.
As a fledging entrepreneur, you often don’t know what dangers lurk around the corner simply because you’ve never peered around the corner before. Fortunately, there are millions of people who have crept around the proverbial corner and strolled down the boulevard of business success that you can learn from.
While there are dozens of things you’ll need to take into account when you’re setting up your first business, from costing and equipment to quality control and marketing, there is one issue many will often ignore and that’s security.
Building a business is extremely difficult, so why would you undo all of that hard work by neglecting the safety of your accounts, your premises and your stock? The average small business is often a bigger target for criminals than larger companies simply because they aren’t equipped to secure their services.
In fact, just to prove that there is an ever-present danger in the small business world, the US Chamber of Commerce found that 30% of small businesses cited employee theft as the main reason for their downfall.
While the range of crimes can vary from stolen stationary to internal data breaches, the fact that small businesses are vulnerable from all sides means that you should take security extremely seriously when setting up your first business.
The first asset you need to protect is your office. Whether you’re one of the 60% who work from home or the remaining 40% who work in an office, industrial or retail space, you need to protect your premises.
Naturally, in an age where smartphones are glued to our hips like cowboys held guns in their holsters, the latest security technology is highly intelligent. Unfortunately, as a small business you can’t simply rely on a standard home alarm. Fortunately, however, Smart Alarms can be tailored to your business needs by those in the know.
One example of this next generation of Smart Security is Verisure’s Business Alarm. Bridging the gap between your smartphone and security system, the company’s software allows you to obtain a complete overview of your workspace whenever you need it through a combination of images, voices and video recordings.
Through Verisure’s iOS and Android apps, you have the ability to unlock doors, monitor who enters/exits the building, take photos and even make a call to a dedicated security team all from your mobile device. What’s even more impressive about this wave of modern security software that’s now infiltrating the business world is that every piece of data is both sent to and recorded by your phone. This means you’ll always have access to vital evidence in the event of a crime taking place.
Another security step you need to take while setting up your business is criminal record checks on potential employees. While this won’t negate the need for a smart security alarm, it is important to limit the risk by running some preliminary checks before you offer someone a contract.
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is the official government service for assessing the credentials of a potential employee, but you can also find similar information via companies such as UK Employee Checks that will provide pre-employment screening.
Any service worth using will offer some form of guarantee with their checks and, while it’s worth remembering that nothing is ever 100% certain when it comes to reputations, the accuracy of the historical data shown should be highly accurate.
Once you’ve secured your office and made sure the people around you are “safe”, the final security sector you need to think about is your virtual data. At the start of 2016, the Government Security Breaches Survey reported that 74% of small businesses reported some sort of data security breach in 2014.
Backing up this finding, cyber security specialists Symantec reported that 52% of phishing attacks (trying to steal data through fake emails) in December 2015 were made against small businesses. To help small businesses step safely onto the security ladder, the UK government has backed the Cyber Essentials scheme as a way of offering information and products to new business owners.
Although it’s almost impossible to secure your business from every threat out there, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the issue altogether. From your surroundings to your virtual network, protecting the business you worked so hard to set-up is a must regardless of whether you’re a sole trader, homepreneur or the next Bill Gates.
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